what are they?
Big manufacturers are constantly bringing out
new ‘improved’ products, which are basically
petroleum-based detergents whose ingredients
are often toxic, non-renewable, and take a long
time to biodegrade. You don’t need such a
range of products; you can buy green brands
based on vegetable oils, or you can make your
own cleaners from a few basic ingredients:
baking soda: dissolves dirt and grease in water;
abrasive, so good for surfaces; neutralises
acids and bases, so removes odours too.
washing soda: can only just be called non-toxic
because of its high pH; use for very very natural cleaners: clockwise from left –
stubborn stains (eg engine oil). hydrogen peroxide (3%); borax; baking soda;
white (distilled) vinegar and lemon juice: cream of tartar; white vinegar; lemon juice; salt
nature’s acidic grease cutters.
better (avoids the transport of all the water
hydrogen peroxide: (3% conc. from chemists) a
found in commercial products).
natural disinfectant produced by the human
The bottom line is that they don’t cause the
body and by the action of sunlight on water.
health and environmental problems of synthetic
borax: mineral (sodium, boron, oxygen and
chemicals when they end up in our bodies or
water), formed when salt lakes evaporate. very
down the drain. Over 70,000 synthetic
low toxicity, yet an effecitive fungicide and anti-
chemicals are manufactured, and only 600
bacterial cleaning and bleaching agent.
have been adequately tested (US Office of
cream of tartar: a natural leftover when grape
juice is fermented into wine.
The human body has not evolved to cope with
what are the benefits? exposure to so many chemicals; asthma and
cancers are on the up, and sperm counts are
Ecover and Bio-D can provide washing-up falling. The cocktails of chemicals we use in our
liquid in refillable drums, from which you can re- homes can’t help. Here is just a tiny selection:
fill bottles, so that you don’t have to keep phosphates: (washing-up liquid, washing
buying new ones. Making your own is even powders); too much for sewage system, leads
to algal blooms in rivers.
paradichlorobenzine: (toilet blocks; deodorisers)
chlorine: (bleaches) irritant, corrosive, can
produce toxic gases when mixed with other
petrochemicals: (furniture polish, high-strength
cleaners) eye, skin and respiratory irritant; can
contain the carcinogen benzene.
sodium hypochlorite: (bleaches) corrosive, kills
bacteria in sewage farms, eye, skin, respiratory
artificial musks: (air fresheners) liver toxin
green cleaning products: clockwise from left formaldehyde: suspected carcinogen.
– toilet cleaner; cream cleaner; multi-purpose perchloroethylene: (dry cleaning) toxic air
cleaner; washing soda; degreaser; laundry pollutant, probable carcinogen, a tiny amount
bleach; natural soap; washing-up liquid will contaminate groundwater for many years.
page 2 LILI
what can I do?
Avoid products with these words on the
container: chlorine, ethylene/ethyl, butyl/alkyl,
benzene, phenol and formaldehyde. Buy green
products or make your own:
all-purpose cleaner: soap and water; or two
tablespoons of baking soda in a litre of water.
stain remover (surfaces): sprinkle with salt
and lemon juice, leave for a while (a few hours
for really bad stains) and wipe clean.
stubborn stains: as a paste, baking soda and
a little water removes stubborn stains from coffe
cups, doors, appliances etc.
air fresheners: pot pourri; baking soda; cut
carpet freshener: sprinkle baking soda before lemon; cinnamon and cloves (simmer to
vaccuuming. remove kitchen odours)
eliminating odours: cat litter trays – baking
soda; fridge – baking soda/water paste. mould remover: spray with equal parts vinegar
removing grease: vinegar (white) with salt. and water, leave for 5 minutes and wipe clean.
disinfectant: (kitchen chopping boards, laundry liquid: green products (see
bathrooms and toilets) spray with white vinegar, ‘resources’).
then spray with hydrogen peroxide solution; stain remover (clothes): equal parts vinegar
wipe clean. and water; for grease, mix borax and water, rub
oven cleaner: make a paste with equal parts in and wipe off.
salt, baking soda and water, paste onto oven laundry bleach: don’t use chlorine-based
walls, leave for a while (overnight is good), then bleaches; ½ cup washing soda in wash cycle;
wipe off. ½ cup lemon juice in rinse cycle; hang washing
metal polish: vinegar or lemon juice (don’t use out – sunlight is a natural bleach.
baking soda on aluminium as it will attack it). dry cleaning: don’t do it – wash woollens with
furniture polish: ½ cup lemon juice with a mild soap and cold water.
teaspoon of olive oil, apply with a soft rag.
window cleaner: 1 litre water, ¼ cup vinegar, 2 resources
tablespoons lemon juice, shake, keep in spray • Hazardless Home Handbook: lists most
bottle and use like ordinary window cleaner. household products in alphabetical order,
drain cleaner: ½ cup baking soda, then ½ cup problems associated with them, storage,
vinegar, leave for 15 minutes, then pour down a disposal, and natural alternatives; download it
kettle of boiling water. free from LILI's website -
washing dishes: buy green washing-up liquid www.lowimpact.org/booksnaturalcleaners.htm
(see ‘resources’) – phosphate free. • The Good Shopping Guide –
air freshener: open the window; cut lemons or www.thegoodshoppingguide.co.uk 0845 458
baking soda in a dish; in the kitchen, simmer 9911; ranks brands using a range of criteria -
cinnamon and cloves. anything you could possibly want to buy
toilet cleaner: spray with vinegar and water • The Green Shop – www.greenshop.co.uk - for
mix around rim, pour cup of vinegar and couple green cleaning products; they have
of spoons baking soda into a bowl, leave for 15 everything you need
mins, brush and flush. • http://www.nancysnatural.info/recipesandtips.
rust remover: scour with cream of tartar. html - fun green cleaning recipes and tips
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